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tv   The Ed Show  MSNBC  December 27, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PST

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if you're a member of congress and a member of the tea party, who's your boss, john boehner, m.i.t. rom mitt romney? don't bet on it. the angry man or woman in the back row of the tea party, the angry one that stands up and scolds him, you betrayed us, you are one of them. do they want to be the person who voted with the party leadership or worse yet, the democratic president, or the one who voted against all of that and stayed true to the purity of the tea party dogma, no taxes, no deals, no compromises, no nothing, period. this is the wall the tea party have raised up, the wall beyond which people who captured. what they campaigned against was spending money on government, that is what taxes are. got it? and that's hardball for now, thanks for being with us "the ed show" with ed schultz starts right now. good evening, americans, welcome to the ed show.
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i'm michael eric dyson in for ed schultz. the president cuts his vacation short to come back to washington, d.c., meanwhile, house republicans are literally phoning it in, this is the ed show, and as ed would say, let's get to work. >> this is something within our capacity to solve. it doesn't take that much work, we just have to do the right thing. >> six days away from the fiscal cliff and there are real consequences to millions of americans if no deal is cut. congressman elijah cummings and ryan grim of the huffington post are here with the latest. a tea party giant stages a coupe with his own office. the details on dick armey's hostile takeover. the nra is catching heat from all directions. >> i don't think the nra is listening, i don't think they understand. >> georgetown university law professor, david cole on the growing drumbeat against the nra. six days until the price of
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milk shoots up to $8 a gallon. why house republicans are take ing america to the dairy cliff. and civil liberty groups take on torture in zero dark thirty. if no deal is reached, the nation will go over the fiscal cliff in a little more than five days and house republicans are doing nothing more than posturing. president obama is flying back to washington tonight from his christmas vacation in hawaii to make one last attempt to get a deal before midnight new year's eve. the senate is returning and will be in session tomorrow for the same purpose. senate majority leader harry reid is trying to determine what kind of bill he can get through the senate with limited republican support. meanwhile, governor neil abercrombie of hawaii tonight announced that lieutenant governor brian schatz is as fit to feel the seat of the passed senator daniel inouye. he will leave hawaii for washington tonight and is
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expected to be sworn in sometime tomorrow afternoon. the democrats are wasting no time in the event harry reid needs the vote to avert the fiscal cliff. but the house? a different story. speaker john boehner held a conference call with republican leadership today, and basically decided to do nothing. there are no immediate plans to return to washington. even as that decision is made, how members have 48 hours to get there. house republican leadership released a statement today reading in part, the house has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted. those bills await action by the senate if the senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form. they must be amended and returned to the house. the house will take this action on whatever the senate can pass, but the senate must first act. the house has passed bills that
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would never pass the senate. speaker boehner's position is a joke. senate majority leader harry reid responded, house republicans pushed middle class families closer to the blip by wasting an entire week with their incompetent plan b stunt no further legislation can move through the senate until republicans drop their knee jerk obstruction. the house is literally phoning it in, tomorrow's conference call will reportedly include the entire caucus, not just republican leadership, the irony is that if we go over the cliff, the president will get whatever he wants on texas, and there's been a growing acknowledgement of this by some house and senate republicans. here's senator johnny isaacsohn of georgia. >> if we get down to the end of this year, and the only choice we have is to save taxes going up on the middle class, i would support that, but i wish we would have a comprehensive bill that dealt with spending, dealt
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with entitlements and dealt with taxes all together. >> if we do fall off the cliff after the president's inaugurated, he'll come back, propose just what he proposed yesterday, in leaving washington, and we'll end up adopting it, why should we put the markets in such turmoil and the people in such misunderstanding and lack of confidence. why don't we act now? >> the real tragedy is that the people who would be immediately affected by going over the fiscal cliff are those in the weakest position to defend themselves. let's take a look at the so-called fiscal cliff. the bush tax cuts will expire. everyone, even republicans know if we go over the cliff, the bush tax cuts will be restored for at least 98% of americans. payroll taxes will go back to normal in 2013. the payroll tax cut was always intended to be a temporary measure. the alternative minimum tax would hit middle class americans.
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year after year, this has been fixed by lawmakers and like everything else notice fiscal cliff, it can be done retroactively. the harshest effects of spending cuts could be modified in the first month or two of 2013. in fact, the defense department, the irs and other government agencies are planning no immediate changes because they're anticipating some kind of deal. that leaves the unemployed, extended unemployment insurance will expire immediately if we go over the cliff. a deal later in january could theoretically restore extended benefits, the immediate damage will have already been done. for many people, this is all an interesting charade. but for the unemployed it's the real deal. get your cell phones out, i want to know what you think. tonight's question, who will the public blame if we go over the fiscal cliff? text a for democrats, text b for republicans to 622329. i'll bring you the results later in the show. joining me now is
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congressman elijah cummings of maryland. welcome to the show. >> it's good to be with you. >> what do you make of the latest posturing. the house will they reconvene before january? they have a lot of stuff to do, so clearly they can't make it back to d.c. to do the people's business. >> as you said a few minutes ago, we have been assured we would be given at least 48 hours notice before we would have to come back, that means right now, is that probably the earliest we will come back is saturday morning. that would only leave saturday and sunday to get anything done, because i doubt that the house will be in session on new year's eve. i doubt it. >> right. >> basically what you're talking about right now, we have two days. this has been a game that's been played on this. this plan b that mr. boehner put forth was everybody knew it wasn't going anywhere. and sadly, that's time that could have been spent seriously
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dealing with the issues that you just talked about like the unemployed and trying to make sure that we came up with a deal that would be reasonable. >> well, look, here's the reality, boehner has lost a lot of juice in his own caucus and his own party. what do you think can be done by him? he's already deferred to the president and the senate to say, hey, you all work the deal out. does this show him to be at his weakest and what does this mean for the rest of the nation? >> let me be clear. speaker boehner is at a weak point. keep in mind all day when they were about to take the vote, they were telling us they had the votes, when in fact they did not have the votes. for a speaker to bring forward a bill and not have the votes is a travesty. and then -- then what they were voting on, that is to extend the tax cuts up to the people making a million dollars, that was not -- i mean, that is not the
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best proposal. they wouldn't agree to that. they want not one dime of new taxes to go to folks who are making all of this money. we have a situation right now where the speaker's been weakened, and he basically threw up his hands and said to the president, look, there's nothing i can do. >> right. >> so i want you to deal with harry reid, possibly senator mcconnell and you all come up with a deal. and, you know, in a way, that's kind of insulting to us in -- on the democratic side in the house. >> sure. >> we all represent 700,000 people, the last thing we want is our speaker throwing up his hands, not allowing us to come in to do the people's work but particularly, when we have so many americans who could be harmed by our failure to act. and it's quite irresponsible. by the way, i would give some advice to speaker boehner, he needs to talk to nancy pelosi. when nancy pelosi was speaker,
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she found a way even with maximum republican opposition to bring her diverse caucus. that is a caucus with diverse views together to get things done like the affordable care act. like dodd frank. she got it done. >> that's great advice, and we hope he listens. >> i hope so. >> thank you so much, my friend. >> my pleasure. let's turn to ryan grim. mr. grim, the jobless are really the only segment of the population who get an immediate hit if we go over the fiscal cliff. doesn't this strike even what appears to be heartless politicians that the people most vulnerable are working class and working poor and middle class people who will get stiffed by this? >> yeah, the jobless have been getting pushed around by congress for years now, you know, ever since the economic crisis. and they implemented some extended emergency benefits they've been getting told that if they give them unemployment it will make them lazy and they
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will not look for jobs. states have insisted they do work in exchange for getting their jobless benefits. that defeats the entire purpose. they want work, they had work. and they lost their job through no fault of their own and they're now in order to get these benefits out looking for more work. the fact is, there are far more people seeking work than there are jobs. that basic math -- there's nothing you can do about that basic math, other than grow the economy. humiliating the jobless is not going to do it, the only good news is that obama and democrats do seem to be committed to making sure that unemployment is part of whatever eventual deal is passed. republicans backs are up against the wall here, there's a decent chance it gets in, at least shortly after the new year if we go over the cliff, then they'll be eligible for retroactive benefits. the hilarious thing here is how extensive this chaos is.
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all of these unemployment offices are going to have to send out letters and they're going to have to recon figure their computer systems and do it all over again. put people through all of this heartbreak over nothing. >> well, clearly, the unemployment are the ones that are going to get stiffed here. they are benefits, doesn't speak to the fact they'll have needs that won't be met immediately, if they had some reserve, they'll be fine. most especially, those who are poor and vulnerable don't have those reserves. >> right. >> let's listen to senator john barrasso on president obama's position. >> i think the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes. i think he sees a political victory at the bottom of the cliff. he gets all this additional tax revenue for programs. he gets to cut the military, and he gets to blame republicans for it. >> let's take the cynicism out
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of that, let's ask the question, is there in fact some benefit to going over the cliff? >> i think that there is. i don't think that the president does want to go over the cliff. i think he's made it extremely clear that he doesn't. and that's because he -- the president is not that much of a risk taker, he would rather come to a deal. he's eager to come to a deal. i don't think he's kidding, hen watts a big deal. he just doesn't have a partner on the other side. he's right and republicans know he's right. if you go over the cliff at this point tax rates go up, on dividends, capital gains and estate taxes go up. republicans want them down, they have to actively push to force them down. democrats only have to lower them for some elements of the population, certainly, the political situation is much better for democrats after january 1st if they go over the cliff. >> sure, that's a complicated idea for some to absorb.
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there are a lot of ideas kicks around, the latest was the smaller deal to blunt the worst effects of the fiscal cliff. what do you think are the dynamics operating there, including senator mcconnell's position. >> he has three choices here, he can find a couple votes to help harry reid get to 60 so they can help a small piece through. he can say, look, do it yourself, we're not going to filibuster it, so you can pass with just the majority only, and then you own all the responsibility for this. or he can simply do nothing. and at this point he's choosing the do nothing route. i don't know how long that's going to last. i think boehner gave a hint of a little openness to something in his statement he put out today. in the very end he said, we passed a bill, the senate doesn't like it, they should amend it, send it back and we will vote on it. that's a commitment from him. if the senate takes up the house bill, amends to do exactly what
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reid wants, then you have a commitment for boehner to vote on it. it will pass, because there are enough democrats that will meet with republicans to pass it. >> ryan grim, thank you very much. remember to answer tonight's question at the bottom of the screen and share your thoughts on twitter @edshow and on facebook. i want to know what you think. an ugly power grab is causing tea party turmoil. why one founding member is being forced to hang up his tricorner hat. coming up, a republican pollster says the nra isn't listening to americans. who will congressional republicans listen to? david cole on the growing criticism of the nra.
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share your thoughts with us on facebook and twitter using the #theedshow.
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we're learning new details about the nasty politics tearing apart the tea party movement tonight. late this summer, dick armey and his wife took an armed security guard to the headquarters of freedom works, he wanted to reorganize the most powerful tea party organization in the country. he tried to get rid of this man, matt kibbe. he was reportedly fighting with kibbe over a book deal. man, i'm an author, i don't know about those kind of fights. the millionaire organized the payoff. richard gave armey $8 million to go away. let's review, a republican leader staged a hostile takeover
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of the biggest tea party group in america. he got an $8 million payoff to walk away from the movement three months before the presidential election. not exactly what armey promised us. >> instead of a hostile takeover as it was by an inside job by a few entrepreneurs, let's make it an outside job by all of america. >> this is what freedom works and the tea party looked like. before the midterm election in 2010. they tried hard to look like a grassroots movement, polls show 27% supported the tea party movement back then. even americans who didn't support it, thought the tea party was good for the system. but over the last two years, the tea party has lost its luster, it's dropped 6% of its supporters, 30% say they're opposed to the movement. just last week one republican implied the tea party and freedom works were among the wing nuts who caused the embarrassing failure of plan b.
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>> i want to be clear, the democrats have their wing nuts too, but in our conference, yeah, there are people that respond. club for growth, heritage action, freedom works. >> this morning, the new york times wrote, the tea party's clout is diminished, it will have to turn to narrower issues. tea party supporters need to realize their so-called movement isn't grassroots at all. it's getting mowed down at the top, pun intended. you're an enlightened contrarian, do you believe the tea party is losing its steam so to speak? >> i do not. if you look at then tire debate in washington, it's constrained by the tea party premise, instead of growing the economy, stimulating we should be cutting spending. whatever deal we get out of all this fiscal cliff madness at the end of the day, is going to be on their terms because of the sequestration they forced from the debt ceiling threat which was irresponsible. the idea in the times today made
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you think these guys are out of the picture, they have some scuffling at the top. >> what do you make of the article itself? coming at it? do you think they are trying to gin up some kind of -- that is the people who are more interested in seeing this article put forth, they're trying to say the tea party is declining when it's not? >> i think it reflects that shift and the fact that you got more people and more money going into this thing. that's that grass tops part you spoke to. this happens in washington a lot. everyone wants their group to sound as powerful as possible. you wrote the book on hip-hop, with your blessing, i'd like to quote some lines tonight. i'm reminded the blessing's not all the way there. for the audience at home, i'm getting a skeptical look. would you rather be underpaid or overrated? must people would be overpaid. in washington you want to be overpaid and overpowerful.
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you have a lot of people that are in the business of pretending the tea party is the biggest thing ever. even as they have the splintering at the top. >> always my blessing to ari melbin my twin on national tv. was the tea party helpful to any political organization or even political candidate in the last election, say mike lee or todd akin? >> yes, they had their misfires. but we have high participation and low democracy, what i mean by that is, washington's broken, the senate doesn't work, everything is filibustered and most seats are gerrymandered, if you are a republican, even with the tea party losses, you're more worried about running up against a tea party primary than facing competition in the general election. that's a deeper systemic problem that to their credit, whatever you think of their politics, the activists have learned how to endorse and get ahold of. >> it's not a grassroots
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movement, it was astroturf. does this indicate that again you have all these rich millionaire figures at the top arguing, book deals and buying out and being quiet. does it really belie the fact that this is not a grassroots movement or do you think that's inevitable with any group that's been funded by deep pocketed people? >> no, that's the problem, they have struggled to create a meaningful grassroots system within all the energy they have built. there are other groups and examples, unions and move-on, have systems whereby they still crowd source. i think viewers of the ed show know how unions do that, and they do it effectively under attack. this tea party has people getting $8 million payouts. if you're so against government spending, worried about the money at the top, why should dick armey be getting all this cash? >> wow! jay-z spinning ari melbin. the tragic christmas eve
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shooting in western new york is furthering the gun debate. is new gun legislation in our future? if you haven't heard about the dairy cliff, you'll want to listen up. david k. johnson explains why you could be paying $8 for a gallon of milk if congress doesn't act. welcome back, in the wake of
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welcome back, in the wake of the newtown school shooting, another tragic incident began bringing the gun control debate front and center. william spangler lit his home on fire in a plot to murder first responders. when the volunteer fire department arrived spangler shot at firefighters from a ditch. he killed two firefighters and wounded two others before killing himself. his sister was believed to be found dead in the home. police believe he used a bushmaster .223 caliber rifle. the same gun used in the newtown shooting. >> people go out in the middle of the night to put out fires and don't expect to be shot and killed. >> you're telling me it's not a matter of common sense if you don't have the ability to shoot off 30 rounds without reloading that just possibly you could reduce the loss of life.
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adam lanza would not have been able to kill as many people as he did -- >> i don't buy your argument for a minute. >> not a single republican lawmaker has come out in favor of an assault weapons ban. even gop strategist frank luntz thinks the nra is out of touch. >> most americans would protect the second american rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun. not every gun should be available at any time, at gun shows you should not be able to buy something right there without any kind of check whatsoever. >> the webster shooter was a convicted felon, so the gun-show loophole could have been how he bought his weapon. for more, let's bring in georgetown university law professor david cole, thanks for coming on. >> thanks for having me. >> after this outbreak of shootings, do you think new gun legislation will happen? i mean, what will it take for this nation to be so moves that
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we come to a sensible and sane policy? >> well, it takes a lot to shock the american people, i think the american people have been shocked. the american people are now interested in having some sort of real reform. for the first time in quite a long time, some of our leaders are suggesting that reform is suggesting reform as well. president obama did not suggest any reform after the aurora shooting last summer. he didn't suggest reform after the massacre of six people in the sikh temple in wisconsin at the end of last summer. after the newtown massacre he did. i think there's a real possibility that this may be a game changer. >> sure. well, look, in the new york review, our worship of the gun. the idoltry of the american imagination so to speak. in difference to guns before the alter and shrine of the automatic weapon. you've written brilliantly about the same gun culture, what role does our -- in the same
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publication. what role does our culture play in preventing new legislation on guns? >> it plays a very powerful role. the nra builds on that role. it's this notion of the individual american who protects himself, who provides for himself, who joins the nra and says, my guns are the bottom line. the reality is, that the people who pay the cost of our romance with guns, the fact that the united states is awash in guns are not the people out in rural arkansas or utah or nevada who are card carrying members of the nra. they're young, black men in the inner city. they're the ones who died from gun homicide and have much higher rates than young, white men. >> you wrote a brilliant piece after the movie theater shooting in colorado saying, in 2008 and 2009, gun homicide was the leading cause of death for young black men. they died from gun violence mainly at the hands of other
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black males at a rate of eight times that of other young white males. all tragedies justifiably spark horror. the nra is not the only meaningful obstacle to reform. unfortunately, violence like this in the black community just doesn't get as much attention, or in latino communities, just doesn't get as much attention as it does in these other communities, which, of course, deserve the attention as well. >> that's right. and that's the cost of gun rights. we talk about we think about the gun owner standing there hunting, what we don't think about is the cost that imposes on people's lives. particularly in the inner city, i do think there's a possibility that things will change here. part of what the problem has been, political sciences have shown it's a myth. the nra defeated the democratic party, when the democratic party pushed in 2004 or 1994 for the assault weapons ban. studies have shown since then it's not at all clear that that
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vote was what cost the democrats the leadership of the house of representatives, and i think if democrats are strong and if republicans are strong, one of the things that polls consistently show, is that the american people generally and the membership of the nra believe in things like licensing requirements, more rigorous background checks. not having this loophole for private gun shows where convicted felons can go and buy guns without a background check. those are reasonable measures, it's the leadership of the nra -- if members of congress can see that, we can get somewhere. >> why haven't we chimed in to help with the discussion. because some have been waiting for the nra to speak. >> i don't see the republicans joining in with the democrats on almost anything these days. i'm not sure this is different from anything else. they too are caught up by the myth of 1994, they think, you
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know, they were brought to power by the nra, therefore, they're beholden to the nra. the democrats are scared of the nra. i'm not convinced that the nra is as powerful as it is. particularly when it's membership disagrees with its leadership about the propriety of reasonable gun regulation. >> professor david cole of georgetown law school, thank you so much for coming on tonight. >> thank you. there's a lot more coming up in the next half hour on the ed show. got milk? house republicans are holding up the farm bill, and the price for a gal of milk will begin shooting up in just six days. david k. johnston weighs in on the dairy cliff. two controversial movies are heating up the box office. spike lee's beef with quintin tarantino's slavery saga "django." and "zero dark thirty" keeps getting better. the fact from the fiction ahead. welcome back. i hope the senator enjoyed every glass of milk as he made his way
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across the u.s. this christmas. if congress doesn't act by december 31st, many americans may not be able to afford his favorite beverage next year. if he renews support for agriculture programs, the country's milk prices could double to as much as $8 a gallon. that's because the government will be forced to revert to a 1949 dairy price subsidy that requires the agriculture department to buy milk at inflated prices. vincent smith from montana state university told the new york times that similar to the current fiscal cliff, the 63-year-old farm law was left on the books as an incentive intended to scare lawmakers into action with the prospect of higher support prices for milk and other agricultural products. actually allowing it to go into effect could be disastrous. farmers would rush to sell dairy to the government at higher prices, limiting consumer supplies, leading to higher prices in stores and less milk
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for manufacturing products like butter, yogurt and cheese. which could have the makers of those products looking for cheaper alternatives like imported milk from new zealand. how did we get here? it's the same old story. republicans are refusing to act. the senate passed its own bipartisan ten-year farm bill in
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this is flo. i need you. i feel so alone. but you're not alone. i knew you'd come. like i could stay away. you know i can't do this without you. you'll never have to.
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you're always there for me. shh! i'll get you a rental car. i could also use an umbrella. fall in love with progressive's claims service. glass of milk as he made his way across the u.s. this christmas. if congress doesn't act by december 31st, many americans may not be able to afford his favorite beverage next year. if he renews support for agriculture programs, the country's milk prices could double to as much as $8 a gallon. that's because the government will be forced to revert to a 1949 dairy price subsidy that requires the agriculture department to buy milk at inflated prices. vincent smith from montana state university told the new york times that similar to the
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current fiscal cliff, the 63-year-old farm law was left on the books as an incentive intended to scare lawmakers into action with the prospect of higher support prices for milk and other agricultural products. actually allowing it to go into effect could be disastrous. farmers would rush to sell dairy to the government at higher prices, limiting consumer supplies, leading to higher prices in stores and less milk for manufacturing products like butter, yogurt and cheese. which could have the makers of those products looking for cheaper alternatives like imported milk from new zealand. how did we get here? it's the same old story. republicans are refusing to act. the senate passed its own bipartisan ten-year farm bill in june. house republicans haven't even brought a competing proposal to the floor for a vote. i'm joined by david k. johnston, pulitzer award winning journalist and i assume lover of milk.
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if we go over the dairy cliff, would there be any doubt as to who is to blame? we don't have to figure out real deeply who is at fault here. >> no, it's very clear who's at fault. we have a group within the republicans and boehner has seen he can't control them. dogma trumps everything else. i think this is a foretelling of what we're going to see for the next two years, a group in the republican party who do not care about anything other than their perspective and making sure their idea of how things should be done gets done or nothing gets done. >> yeah, they're curdling the milk to be sure. explain to us how food stamps factor into this. this is one of the most ludicrous and tragic elements of this entire story. >> statistically every 50th person you pass on the street is living on no income at all except food stamps because there are not jobs for those people. they're not slackers, they're not people who are indolent or
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messed up their lives, they can't find a job because we don't have the jobs. we have a situation in which the food stamp budget has exploded, as it's supposed to when you have this severe economic downturn. the republicans just simply don't believe that people who are long term unemployed and their children should be able to get food through a government program. >> they are afraid -- >> if they can cut the agriculture budget. they want to reduce food stamps and milk prices are part of this, then so be it. >> that's the point. the paranoid view here is that everybody is on the goal of trying to get over. we have to tamp down on all these excesses, what ends up happening is it rebounds negatively to the middle class until work poor and poor people get messed up in the process. >> if this can make the deficit worse in a relatively small way. supermarkets are not going to be able to sell milk at $8 a gallon. the government will buy it at
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that price or a much higher price than it's paying now, under the 1949 law when cows were milked by hand instead of machines. it will have to sell that milk at a loss. >> yeah, and selling at a loss is going to do tremendous damage to that industry. what would the real world impact of a price hike like this be. >> if milk went up that much, you would see a huge change in the dietary habits of americans, including children. they would be drinking water and soda. remember we have all these sugary drinks that people are letting their children have. and you would see this big shift away from milk toward those kinds of drinks. the real underlying story here, i think the important one is about how we are seeing the way the republicans are likely to behave for the next two years, i think this is going to turn out to be an extraordinarily difficult and weird and unusual period in american history.
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>> david k. johnston, thank you for milking the story to its full extent. a war of words over the new movie "django unchained" spike lee is calling the film disrespectful and says he won't see it. welcome back. we love hearing from our viewers on twitter and facebook. tonight people are reacting to the story on our blog about the beating labor unions took in 2012. on twitter, brian laugherty says, the tables need to be turned on corporate america in
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2013. being prolabor means being tonight people are reacting to the story on our blog about the beating labor unions took in 2012. on twitter, brian laugherty says, the tables need to be turned on corporate america in 2013. being prolabor means being proamerica. john rutter agrees, he says once organized labor is beaten, no one's wages will be safe.
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and steven says, it's unbelievable people are so ignorant about what the loss of unions has to do with our current economic woes. keep sharing your thoughts with us on facebook and twitter using the #edshow. two new movies are causing controversy. why spike lee won't see "django unchained" and why mike morrell is criticizing "zero dark thirty's" depiction of torture.
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it was a record breaking opening for quentin tarantino's latest film. the film an homage to 60s westerns, raked in an estimated $15 million breaking the record for an r rated release on christmas day. the film is already sparked controversy over its repeated use of the n word, and now, director spike lee says he won't go to see it. >> it would be disrespectful to
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my ancestors to see that film. that's all i'm going to say. i can't disrespect my ancestors. >> he continued his criticism with this tweet. american slavery was not a sergeo leone spaghetti western my ancestors are slaves, stolen from africa, i will honor them. lee has spoken out against tarantino's work before. taking issue with the use of racial slurs. mark anthony neil says arguing over the use of such epithets creates a division and keeps us from discussing tough topics. it's much easier to gloss over historical realities than to talk about words that were used whether that's getting rid of the n word or complaining about the use of a word in a film. i'll be seeing the film tomorrow and talk about the film's impact with dr. james peterson on this show. siskel & ebert will be back
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tonight to discuss more film. tonight in our survey i asked you, who will the public blame if we go over the fiscal cliff, 4% say democrats, 96% say republicans. coming up, the film "zero dark thirty" asks questions about torture.
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can i be honest with you? i have bad news. i'm not your friend. i'm not going to help you. i'm going to break you. any questions? >> the film "zero dark thirty" is getting rave reviews from critics and fears put back from lawmakers and intelligence officials. the movie chronicles the decade long effort to find osama bin laden and bush era cia torture techniques. it opens with the words, based on firsthand accounts of the events and they were given access to officials at the defense department and cia. but leon panetta who oversaw the
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agency at the time of the bin laden raid said the information did not lead to bin laden's hideout in pakistan. other lawmakers agree. as does mike morrell. he says the film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former interrogation program were the key to finding bin laden. that impression is false. three members of the senate intelligence committee are also taking issue with the film suggestions that torture was an effective method of obtaining information. senator's john mccain, dianne feinstein and carl levin are asking the head of sony pictures to correct the record. we believe you have an obligation to state the role of torture in the hunt for osama bin laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative. let's turn to the director of the aclu national security project.
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thank you so much for coming on the show. >> thank you for having me. >> the opening scene depicts the torture of a detainee. later the detainee supplies a piece of information during a meal with his interrogators. do you think the film misleads people on the hunt for bin laden, does it not provide sufficient context? >> i think the film certainly starts out with the claim that it's based on fact and it leaves the strong but entirely false impression that torture led to bin laden. and we know that that is false from the people who have reviewed the cia's records. senator's feinstein, levin and mccain are amongst the senate intelligence community personnel who reviewed millions of pages of cia documents that in fact torture did not lead to in london. i think that takes away from the larger problem.
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the idea that torture was somehow effective. which is certainly the impression the film believes. it is a film told almost entirely from the perspective of the torturers, it leaves out -- and the torturers are the heroes. it leaves out the perspective of the true heroes at the time, the other cia agents, fbi agents, military officials who said, not only is torture ineffective, it's illegal, immoral and it will do harm to our national security if we use it. that's a story entirely untold. >> absolutely right. we know those techniques played a role in the war on terror, for better or worse. did the filmmakers have an obligation to at least acknowledge that role? not making a moral judgment as to the validity of the approach, but the accuracy of the fact that torture techniques were deployed? >> in one sense it's true, entertainment is entertainment and fact is fact, this is a film that starts out by claiming it is based on fact.
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and once that claim is made, i do think that the filmmakers who now have a real platform given this controversy should acknowledge that in fact torture did not lead to bin laden as the facts have shown. and also, i think acknowledged that there were real heroes at the time who faced with the same kinds of pressures the filmmakers depicted said no. >> another interesting feature of the film is that women are at the center, that is to say that the bin laden unit so to speak, after the war on terror has been largely staffed by women, that the shift from male dominant to female centered perspectives suggests that women are at the forefront of forging progress in the war on terror. is that an interesting moment? something that's totally incidental or does it make a difference in terms of how we understand the war on terror? >> as i understand it, the


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